Discussing the Iraq war, reporter Martha Raddatz reminded the Cheney, "Two-thirds of Americans say it’s not worth fighting." At this, the Cheney snorted, "So?" Raddatz, a little taken aback: "So? You don’t care what the American people think?" The Cheney: "No." (Emphasis not added; he said it in italics.) Continuing: "I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls."
Is that a prize? Let's just admire it for a moment.
|MARTHA RADDATZ: You don't care what the American people think?|
DICK CHENEY: No.
Breathtaking. Before we move on: What the Cheney calls "fluctuations in the public opinion polls" are actually numbers that have been dropping steadily and quickly downward for a very long time. Five years ago, when this misguided act of evil began, 68% of the American people supported the war; today, it's down to 32%. Moreover, the Cheney has no problem justifying his arguments by saying that the American people agree with him. "The American people will not support a policy of retreat," he intoned ominously at Yokosuka Naval Base last year.
Anyway, the Cheney moment on Good Morning America reminded me of a similar exchange which took place last year between 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley and John McCain, on the same subject. When Pelley asked McCain "at what point do you stop doing what you think is right and you start doing what the majority of the American people want?" McCain said, "Well, again, I disagree with what the majority of the American people want."
You could say that there's something refreshingly honest about an elected official flatly admitting that he doesn't care what the people want. Also, there's the deathless Edmund Burke line about how a representative betrays the people if he sacrifices his judgment to their opinion. But it's hard to argue that you should be the next president after declaring your opposition to most Americans on your campaign's biggest issue. McCain's unambiguous view is that Iraq is the central front in something called "the war on terror." In taking on this futile and imaginary conquest, McCain is even more ambitious than Bush; there is not a country in the world he would not have us occupy.
We've been saying that in terms of foreign policy, a McCain presidency would be like another Bush presidency. But I think it would be more like a Cheney presidency. McCain isn't Bush. For one thing, McCain isn't stupid. He's Cheney. He's a cantankerous, angry old man who wants to kick some ass. Bush, when he ran for president in 2000, was professedly a non-interventionist; we all remember his bold stance against nation-building, ha ha ha. But the Project for the New American Century -- whose policy of global domination through military force matches McCain's -- chose Bush in the 2000 primaries, and that was largely because of Dick Cheney. PNAC drafted Cheney to find a running mate for Bush, and Cheney found himself. So Bush's role as global gladiator had been decided well before 9/11. But it probably wasn't decided by Bush. The things that have actually been decided by Bush can be counted on the fingers of one nose.
McCain is somewhat more moderate than Bush/Cheney on certain social and economic issues, and they hate him for it. But McCain has made clear that to him, the presidency is about foreign policy. He infamously declared, "I don't think Americans are concerned if we're there [in Iraq] for one hundred years or a thousand years or ten thousand years." He cheerfully promised, "There's going to be other wars. We will never surrender but there will be other wars." That is just so...I don't know...Cheney!
"That's one of the things that makes me very nervous about him," said Pat Buchanan, nervously. "There's no doubt John McCain is going to be a war president...His whole career is wrapped up in the military, national security. He's in Putin's face, he's threatening the Iranians, we're going to be in Iraq a hundred years." Even American Conservative is concerned about the danger of "a militarist suffering from acute narcissism and armed with the Bush Doctrine" who "is not fit to be commander in chief."
Cheney and McCain keep their distance from one another, as well they should, because there is real danger of an explosion. Consider these selected quotations from Senator McCain:
|"Fuck you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room!" -- McCain to Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), on the floor during a debate on immigration|
"I'm calling you a fucking jerk!" -- McCain to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
"Thanks for the question, you little jerk! You're drafted!" -- McCain to a New Hampshire high school student who asked if McCain's age was an issue in the election
"Only an asshole would put together a budget like this." -- McCain to former Budget Committee chairman Senator Pete Domenici
These remarks could only have come from one person -- John McCain. And one creature.
And here's one that could only be McCain -- not just because of the obvious reference to his personal experience, but because of the fact that this remark was not made in private, but to reporters aboard his campaign bus in 2000:
|"I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live." -- John McCain|
Why, Senator, what straight talk you have. We should reconsider our argument that nothing could be worse than another Bush term. There is something much worse -- a Cheney term.